Flashpoint was DC's most recent crossover event, setting the stage for the company's 2011 relaunch. The story follows Barry Allen's Flash, who finds himself in an altered timeline in which there is no Justice League, Wonder Woman and Aquaman are fighting a war against each other, and everyone's lives are significantly more unfortunate. Flashpoint also gave us a new version of both Batman and the Joker, as Bruce's parents Thomas and Martha Wayne, respectively.
The story begins as always: Bruce Wayne and his parents are outside a theater when criminal Joe Chill holds them at gunpoint, demanding their valuables. But in the world of Flashpoint, Dr. Thomas Wayne fights back, causing Chill to open fire, which strikes Bruce instead of his parents. Martha leaves to find help, and Bruce dies in the alley with his father.
A few months later and the Waynes' marriage is under severe strain, stretching "in sickness and in health" to its limits. Martha is still in deep depression, attending therapy but making no progress. Thomas is unable to move on with his own life while his wife remains in this state, telling her that they have to let go, and while he misses Bruce, he also misses Martha's smile.
Eventually Thomas hunts down Joe Chill and beats him to death in an attempt to relieve his anger and seek closure, both for himself and his wife. He returns home after committing the deed to relay the news to Martha, only to find that her grief has broken her sanity and she's taken his advice rather literally.
Luckily for the Joker, it turns out that the Flash is searching for a way back into his own timeline, a world in which both Thomas and Martha cease to exist while their son lives on. Thomas, of course, wants his son alive more than anything in the world, but knowing that Bruce also lives under the mantle of Batman gives him reservations about whether or not helping the Flash is the right choice, and for that he has to consult the Joker.
Their reunion goes well, considering all the blood spilled between them, but things take a turn for the painful when the Joker asks what her child is like as an adult and Batman can't bring himself to lie to her.
Understandably, the Joker does not handle the thought of her son carrying out a miserable existence in the name of everything that she hates and completely snaps, fleeing from Batman in a blind panic before falling into the cave where Bruce Wayne was attacked by bats as a child. Impaled on stalagmites, the Joker dies, muttering "It's a baaaaaa..." as her husband watches. Batman goes on to help Flash restore the timeline, leading to the universe DC readers know and love.
The Batman/Joker miniseries, along with Flashpoint in general, was met with mixed reviews. Some felt the story was deeply moving and tragic, adding new dimensions to both Thomas and Martha Wayne and the Batman and Joker character dynamic. Others felt it was a rushed story, focusing more on shock value and the idea rather than the characters themselves. But whatever the reception, there is one thing we can all agree on: Flashpoint did give us the first image in the comics canon of Batman and the Joker making out:
Thank you, DC.
Lady Joker Week continues tomorrow with all three of Tangent Comics' takes on the Joker.